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Lance Hayward

Media, University of Warwick

Thesis title:

The Serialised Documentary: Aesthetics, Authorship, Engagement

My PhD thesis is tentatively titled The Serialised Documentary: Aesthetics, Authorship, Engagement, and concerns the intersection between documentary and serial form. Long form documentary seems to be booming in both quantity and popularity in the contemporary media environment, and despite the wave of scholarly interest in seriality in dramatic forms, there has so far been little research into a) how serial form is textually manifest in documentary, b) how these elements affect the ways in which documentary has historically been conceived as primarily an educational, rather than entertaining, form, and c) whether these elements have changed over time. I aim to fill this gap through close analyses of serial documentary programmes, ranging from Paul Watson’s observational series The Family and Sylvania Waters, to docu-soaps such as The Cruise and Driving School, longitudinal documentaries, and contemporary true crime documentary serials like Making a Murderer and Tiger King. By closely analysing the interaction between serial narration and documentary style in these programmes, I attend to their place in the information-entertainment binary and the modes of viewer engagement which they invite in their viewers.

Research Area

  • Media


Lance Hayward, "Book Review: Christie Milliken and Steve F. Anderson (eds.), Reclaiming Popular Documentary, Bloomington: Indiana UP (2021)", Critical Studies in Television 16.4 (forthcoming 2022). 


"Seven Up, serial documentary form and narrative openness" Midlands4Cities Research Festival 2022, 16th June 2022 [online].

"The Limits of Fictional Equivalences: Sylvania Waters and Narrative Openness" Film and Television Studies Departmental Research Day, 18th May 2022

“Documentary and Serial Segmentation” Warwick Film and Television Studies Departmental Research Day, University of Warwick, 19th May 2021 [online].

"Spike Lee's Reality Checks" 2nd Annual PGR Conference, Centre for Film Studies, University of Birmingham, March 2019.

Other Research Interests

  • Television aesthetics and theory
  • Documentary (television, film, and other media)
  • Seriality
  • Streaming and video-on-demand 
  • Memory and trauma in film and television
  • Television history
  • Factual television genres (documentary, reality television, etc.)
  • Television drama and comedy
  • Cognitive approaches to television
  • Queer theory
  • Performativity
  • Ethics in moving image media 


I am a member of Warwick's Centre for Television Histories, and a member of BAFTSS. 


In the 2021-2022 academic year, I led seminars on the second-year core module Classical Hollywood and the second and third-year optional module Queer Screens.